Yes, ICANN? Oh No UCANT!

This is nuts. I register two domains, stephenbates.com and yellowdoggereldemocrat.org, each for about $15 a year… yes, I could have gotten them cheaper, but I find the registrar I use to be free of the kind of troubles one might expect in such a business.

Now, as the international regulatory body, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) begins to create and sell new top-level domains (as in Time Magazine’s example, say, “.baseball” instead of “.com”), their prices have gone extreme… $185,000 for a 10-year license, plus $10,000 a year, for a new top-level domain… and of course other subordinate registrars will follow suit.

Many domains are registered defensively. E.g., in a purely hypothetical example, to protect a trademark, the Coca-Cola corporation might register not only Coke.com but also Coke.org, Coke.edu, Coke.info, Coke.tv, and an assortment of other names. A large corporation will have no trouble coming up with millions of dollars to cover all the bases. What about a small nonprofit?

This is just nuts. Why should I have to register, say, stephenbates.isfuckedup as a domain I will never actually have hosted anywhere, at a cost of $185k, just to prevent someone from using it?

And where is the outrage on broadcast TV news? What outrage? There is no problem. ABC (picking at random among networks) can certainly afford all the domains it wants; why stir up trouble among the proles?

ICANN is a committee with an historical propensity to meet in secret. Congress has taken some testimony in opposition to this plan, but the fact is that we will know of its approval (or, one hopes, disapproval) by a pronouncement in pontifical fashion from the committee. Like much of the rest of American government these days, it will all be done behind closed doors, and you will be told the result.

But ICANN’s decision doesn’t affect just the U.S. I can’t wait to read the European reaction to this outrage.

AFTERTHOUGHT: the real beneficiaries of such a policy are domain registrars and attorneys. Start it up, and watch the lawsuits begin.

CORRECTION: this apparently applies only to the sale of new gTLDs (generic Top Level Domains) themselves, things on a par with “.com”. Please read Bryan’s comment, first in the thread. I still think it’s a bad idea, but it may not affect lower-level domain prices under one of the existing standard TLDs like .com, .org and .net. Time will tell.

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Comments

  • Bryan  On Friday January 13, 2012 at 11:57 am

    Steve, that’s for a TLD, a top level domain like .com. If you want to own that level it has always been a minimum of $185K plus proof that you can technically support it with infrastructure.

    For example, if they authorize .blog, in addition to the cash [the $185K is the minimum bid] you have to show that you have the hardware and bandwidth to support requests for the sub-licenses, i.e. whynow.blog. The price gives you the exclusive rights to sell the subdomains as a registrar, which is why the price is so high.

    If Coca-Cola wants .coke they will have to built a DNS server facility, even though they have no intention of selling subdomains.

    • Steve  On Friday January 13, 2012 at 12:58 pm

      Bryan, even given that fact, many of the same problems arise. Registration for the sake of trademark protection is still an issue, and it still disproportionately affects small-business and nonprofit trademark holders. And the case of .Coke is almost surely typical rather than not: most companies will not want to license subdomains under their trademarked top-level domain. Even correcting my misunderstanding in my post (I’ll simply tell people to read your comment), this still looks to me like a bad idea, an opportunistic grab with no positive consequences I can see.

      • Bryan  On Friday January 13, 2012 at 10:49 pm

        Steve, Eric at Wampum is an insider in the process and would like to be registrar for .blog, as well as several Native American TDLs. He has been writing about the process and bureaucracy involved for a long time, but it is definitely a ‘technical’ discussion. He was thinking about a $10 annual fee for .blog domains, but the pricing is up to the registrar. After the initial hit, it costs $10K/year to be the primary registrar.

        That’s why I knew about the pricing and the process.

        The good news is that you can’t sell your license to be a registrar. If you decide to give it up, it reverts to ICANN, so you can’t buy it and resell for a profit, which would drive up the prices.

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